David Grinestaff

James Dumas robbed an east Danville gas station in August 1975, taking $25 and the life of David Grinestaff, pictured. The teenager, who wasn't even supposed to be working that night, died in the operating room hours later.

DANVILLE, Ill. — It’s become a yearly routine that Katherine Lee simply doesn’t like.

Yet more than 40 years after her son’s murder, she thinks “it’s the only thing I can do for him.”

Lee is again circulating a petition on behalf of her son, David Grinestaff, against the parole of James Dumas, who killed her teenage boy during a gas station robbery in 1975. It’s the 22nd time she has petitioned against Dumas’ parole. His hearing is set for July 20.

“I just don’t like doing it all the time,” Lee told the Danville, Illinois Commercial-News. She added it’s stressful for many others in town, and they share her disbelief when each parole hearing comes up once again.

In July of last year, Dumas' parole was denied for the minimum of one year. Per state statute, the Illinois Prisoner Review Board can opt to deny parole for one, two or three years.

Lee thinks it's "ridiculous" she has to petition against his parole so often. She also said that everybody is behind her, supporting her efforts to keep Dumas behind bars.

To Lee, it's important that her son's killer serves a full sentence. In 1976, Dumas was sentenced to 100-150 years in prison.

In August of 1975 Dumas, then 32, entered a gas station on the east side of Danville with another man, robbed Grinestaff of $25 and shot him. He has never named the other person involved.

At the time of the murder, Dumas had been on parole for months on a conviction from Indiana. After his 14th parole hearing, Dumas finally admitted to the murder, although he claimed it was an accident.

"It didn’t accidentally go off," Lee said in March of last year. "He was shot from about 18 inches inches away."

Lee has distributed petitions against Dumas’ parole at various restaurants in Danville. An online petition is also available.

Denison writes for the Danville, Illinois Commercial-News.

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